The Digital Reader

Charting the eBook Evolution since 2010

The Digital Reader header image 1

My Guess: For Penguin It Is Just About the Money

February 9th, 2012 by · 2 Comments · opinion

Probably the nonsense about “friction” means more to Penguin than I think, but only a little bit more. They know that all their newest titles–Signet, I suspect is the one most checked-out on ebook devices–are all available for free download from the web in a matter of seconds. But I don’t think they like the disintermediation, with people seeing “Overdrive” everywhere. They’re already dealing with Amazon, a firm that is at least technically competent.

Overdrive’s got a fascinating business model. For years, given ebook demand, they were largely beneficiaries of a wealth transfer, between themselves and taxpayers in a given library district. Their exorbitant fees–I mean, bandwidth, really? I’m giving away 10 times as many books as they are in a given month, and these days I’m nothing compared to Hadrien, let alone Gutenberg–meant that Overdrive didn’t much have to care about compensating publishers or pushing ebooks.

Even after Kindle and iPad launched, Overdrive’s content wasn’t able to be used on those devices. BlueFire, which syncs reasonably well with Overdrive services, came roughly a year after iPad, Overdrive for Kindle just this summer/fall? Meanwhile, Overdrive collected its fees.

I suspect Penguin sees little benefit to itself in supporting Overdrive’s business model any further, particularly given the Amazon arrangement.

The more interesting question is: Penguin’s new partner, assuming one emerges. 3M is fascinating, but I don’t know how much of a reach they’re gonna have. Ingram’s another that also offers ebooks to libraries, and I’d hoped to see more from their CoreSource initiative, but haven’t yet. The Ebooks Corporation is still around is well. Overdrive, despite its fees, despite librarian anger, really does have kind of a lock on the market.

Unless, of course, a 3M or an Ingram, maybe Blio, which is still alive, turns around and launches itself, with one of several of the Big Six (who of course will be receiving far better terms than Overdrive is offering.)

Penguin, already dealing with Amazon, may not want another digital behemoth, but they really better announce that new partner soon if they’re serious.

image by Heather Marie Kosur

reposted with permission from Munsey’s TechnoSnarl

Tags:

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Nate Hoffelder

    Blio launched a couple months back. The library platform is called Axis360.

  • Kirsten

    What do you mean Penguin is “dealing with” Amazon? Are you talking about the Kindle Lending Library? that’s the only thing I could think you mean. I am curious.

    And of course, it’s about the money. But is acting in such bad faith going to improve their cash flow? Doubt it.

Leave a Comment